Victor Wong, CEO of Thunder shares his thoughts on how advertising is moving away from media buying/planning to audience buying/planning as standard practice. 

We only got here once we could trust the quality of data on people more than the quality of the media. Data on people has come a long way thanks to brands increasingly collecting 1st-party customer data assets such as authenticated emails, phone numbers, or billing addresses. At the same time platforms and publishers are collecting more registration information than ever, setting up the industry to finally transact on people rather than media placements which were for a while the best proxy. 

Fragmentation of devices definitely drove the necessity to think about people more because for the same media you were likely hitting the same person over and over in a way that couldn’t be stopped before people-based, cross-device identifiers  Identity graphs from Facebook, Google and LiveRamp solved this and ignited the demand for audience buying and planning.

Before identity graphs, you had no way to consistently and precisely target an individual on multiple devices for even the same publisher let alone a whole media channel buy. You’re now seeing whole agencies like Hearts & Science and Merkle embrace identity as the core of what they’re doing and putting it first before the media. Others are creating and enhancing their own identity graphs since that is becoming the real differentiated asset. So you’ll be hearing more and seeing more about identity-based or people-based advertising practices in the next year as the industry re-orients itself.